How to use Zoom: 10 tips and tricks


During the coronavirus outbreak, the Zoom video conferencing application went from being a strange stranger to the leading digital communications platform on the planet. It reached an incredible peak of 200 million daily active users in March 2020, so it is highly likely that you have used it at some point if you work from home.

The beauty of Zoom lies in its simplicity, which allows people to create, schedule, or join a meeting with just a few clicks. It also offers an excellent level of functionality in the free version, even if there is officially a 40-minute limit.

However, there are a number of hidden features that can really add to your experience. Here are 10 worth trying.

Change the background of your call

The ability to customize your Zoom background has proven immensely popular, with all sorts of fun and creative ways to use it. While creating a background yourself can take a while, switching between presets is fairly simple. See our dedicated tutorial on how to change your Zoom background.

Turn off your default camera and microphone

To avoid interfering with those already on the call, having your microphone and camera turned off should be your default position.

For the microphone head, go to Settings, then Audio and select ‘Mute microphone when joining a meeting’.

On the camera side, it’s Settings, Video and then ‘Turn off my video when I join a meeting’.

React with emojis

You didn’t think Zoom would neglect emojis, did you? Despite not having regular text chats, you can still react on calls with emojis in response to what is said.

This is perfect for a large meeting, allowing the host to evaluate participant comments without having to mute their microphone or write a response.

When you’re on a call, you should see a Reactions tab at the bottom of the screen, next to the microphone and camera options. Click here and choose your emoji, which will disappear after 5 seconds.

For this to work, the organizer will have had to enable the non-verbal comment feature.

Use keyboard shortcuts

Although you will rarely use your keyboard during a Zoom, it may be worth learning some useful shortcuts to make the software easier to use.

One of the most useful is to hold down the space bar during a call, which will mute and activate the microphone. Rif it is reset, it will return to the previous settings, making it perfect if you are suddenly called to speak in a meeting.

See the full range of shortcuts on the Zoom website.

Switch to gallery view

The gallery view is probably the one you’ve seen in various Zoom screenshots, with dozens of people’s faces in a grid on the screen.

However, by default, Zoom calls only show who is speaking. To change it, simply click on the ‘Gallery View’ tab in the upper right corner of a call screen.

The gallery view will show up to 49 participants on the screen at any time, after which there will be multiple pages.

Hide participants without video

The gallery view is great for meetings with many people, but will show everyone on the call by default. It is very likely that some people have disabled their cameras, but there is a setting that can hide them from the screen.

Go to Settings, Video and Meetings, where you can enable ‘Hide non-video participants’

Don’t worry, you can still listen to these participants, so you won’t forget them just because you can’t see them!

Share your screen

Sharing your screen in a Zoom meeting is incredibly easy, and the feature is open to all attendees. You don’t need permission from the host to start sharing.

To do so, simply click on the ‘Share Screen’ button, located in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

This gives you the option to share your entire desktop or just one tab, while you can end at any time by clicking the red ‘Stop Sharing’ button.

Activate beauty mode

It’s a common feature of smartphone selfie cameras, but did you know that Zoom has a built-in beauty mode? Known as ‘Retouch My Appearance’, it will soften your appearance and possibly remove some perceived blemishes.

However, just like on a phone, this can often seem very artificial.

To activate, click the up arrow next to start the video before joining a meeting. Head over to Video Settings and then to My Video, where there will be an option to ‘Retouch my appearance’

Record the meeting (desktop only)

With so many important meetings now taking place through Zoom, you probably want to keep a copy of some for future reference.

Fortunately, Zoom’s built-in recording features are excellent. To make sure that all meetings are recorded by default, go to Settings and then Record and make sure it is turned on.

If you organize a meeting, just click the ‘Record’ button on the toolbar once it starts.

The recording file will be saved locally on your device.

The feature is available on mobile devices, but only if you subscribe to a paid account.

Host more than 100 people for more than 40 minutes.

While Zoom is very generous with the features of its free tier, but limits participants to 100. To join more, it is only the host who will need to subscribe to a paid subscription for at least £ 15.99 per month. See all options here.

Free meetings are also technically limited to 40 minutes, although there is an alternative solution. See how to get around Zoom’s 40-minute limit.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of Zoom, you’ll need to make sure you stay safe when using it. See our guide protecting your privacy and security when using Zoom.

Visit Home Hacks for more tips and suggestions on how to deal with the new normal.